Sunday, October 25, 2015


It's Monday, have a cookie.
oatmeal cookies
It's Monday......and it's the worst, right? 
So let's all talk about something fun.
Let's talk about food.
I get through my week surviving on many-a-granola-bar. They are quick, easy, and the right bar (like THIS one) can calm my grumbly stomach before I head into a test. But all week long I dream about all the real foods I'll eat on the weekends. I'll cook! I'll bake! I'll grill! Maybe we'll go out! mmmmm.

I used to be really up on my Where-To-Eat Game. ( I even had a page for it! It's so outdated now....) I knew all the popular places, and exactly what to order. We don't get out much these days, so I feel a little behind in the times.
For example, I just had my first Pho over the weekend and WHAAAATTTT??? (try it at Oh Mai! in SLC) How have I been missing out on this my whole life? Why didn't you tell me? Also, since I can't get down to the city every night to satisfy my cravings, give me a recipe so I can make my own! 
Do you make Pho? Teach me. 
Please, teach me.

As long as we are talking about restaurants, I'll tell you about my current favorite place to eat. The only problem's about 4 hours away from my house. The Burr Trail Grill in Boulder, UT is THE best burger I've ever had.....and that's saying a lot, if you knew how many burgers, from how many places I've consumed these last few years. But it's not just the burgers, it's the appetizers, and the PIE, and the everything else. Robby and I hit it over the summer and then we were down that way last weekend, and it is truly the best party my mouth has ever had. Try it...if you're ever in the middle-of-nowhere, Utah. (They close in October for the season and re-open in the spring).

Last year the famous Whitney Ingram told me to check out Aubergine in Orem. Locals, have you tried this place? THE best place to get your veggie fix. Their Mediterranean salads are my favorite.

And one last place to eat. Fridays we like to climb and then head over to Whole Foods for pizza. You can pick any topping and any combo you want, and we love it (and $5 off on Fridays!)

With the temps cooling, I'm using my oven more, and brought back THIS favorite chicken bake last week. My kids down it, and it makes great leftovers too. I added some kale and pine nuts to the mix this time.

And before we end, let's not forget dessert. Cookies. I have been tweaking this recipe for the last few months and finally got it just they way I want it--not too crispy, not too cakey, just right.
oatmeal cookies
Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup Turbinado Sugar (this gives the cookies a perfect crunch)
  • 1/8 cup molasses
  • 2 tsp Mexican Vanilla
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350 degrees. 
Combine sugars, molasses, and butter in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Starting with the mixer on low speed and increasing until it is on medium, beat until the mixture is creamy and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for a few minutes each. Add the vanilla extract, then scrape the sides of the bowl, and mix to combine.
Combine the oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Add the dry mixture to the butter mixture, then mix on low speed just to combine, adding the chocolate and pecans as it mixes. Stop mixing as soon as you stop seeing the dry mixture, the less mixing the better!
 Line the baking pans with parchment paper.  Place balls of dough about 3 inches apart on baking pans. Bake until golden and just set, 11-13 minutes.  Remove from oven; let cool on pan 4 to 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
oatmeal cookies

Your turn--tell me about your favorite food right now! Where are you eating? Share your favorite recipes! 
And PLEASE, teach me how to make Pho!

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 9, 2015

friday q & a returns!

Back when I used to be better at blogging I'd sometimes do a little Q&A....I thought we could start that back up we go....

Every week I get questions from all my kind/sweet/funny/adventurous/super cool readers 
via comments/emails/instagram/facebook.........and as many of you have learned I have the HARDEST time getting back to you. I just can't sit on my computer all day answering me crazy.  

For frequently asked questions (camera talk, etc,) check out the FAQ (which most definitely needs to be updated.)  

If I get questions related to specific posts/photos that apply to everyone, I will try my hardest to post them here every few weeks. .....ask away!

One of THE most frequently asked questions I've gotten over the past year and a half is 
Why did you decide to go back to school?
When I went to college the first time around, I had absolutely NO direction. I applied as a photography major and then decided 1) what was I going to do with that degree (haha funny, right?) and 2) I didn't have any equipment...or the money to get it all......was it really what I wanted to do? So I got an associates degree in "General Education" which basically equates to nothing, if we are being honest. I just had no idea what I wanted to do, I was tired of school, newly married, and felt like more school at that point would have just been spinning my wheels. So I called it good, and knew I'd go back someday. When Lucy was in school all day I knew that my time had arrived!
(I wrote about "going back to school" HERE)

headed to my nursing school interview. Lucy insisted on being in the tree to take my picture.......ok(?) 
Some things you should know, my chaco tan lines are ridiculous in my heels! Also, I played in a softball league this summer and the night before my interview I took a line drive right to my ankle--it was so swollen it hardly fit in my shoe. It was red and purple and huge--I kept my legs crossed throughout my entire interview process hoping no one would notice....I guess they didn't care--they let me in!

First day, of my first semester of nursing school.

Why do you want to be a nurse?

I love this question! I feel so strongly about this decision in my life that I am happy to share my answer. Many of you know I went through a whhhhoooollllllle lotta health junk a few years ago. In that time I saw doctor after doctor after doctor.....and I honestly hardly remember any of them. But I remember so many of my nurses. I had some really terrible nurses who treated my like a number, but mostly I had absolutely wonderful nurses who truly cared for me--held my hand when things got rough. I realized that a nurse can make or break your day, and I knew that I wanted to be that person who made someones day a little here I am!

Why blog?
I was recently asked why I decided to jump back into blogging when everything is so busy right now. Yes--it's super busy, and I'm sure I will have to skip posting from time to time, but I also really do love this little community we've built here. I loving sharing thoughts, food, and silly stories, and I always feel like my readers have so much wisdom to share with ME. I have been taking billions of pictures over the last year while I've been away, and I'm excited to share those too.

What biking gear do you recommend?
I get this question every time I post a biking photo on IG and I have to be honest......this really isn't my department. Robby has introduced me to the world of mountain biking and I am literally, just along for the ride. I have fallen in love with it--there really is such a thrill that I can't get from running. But I pretty much let him do all the bike-related-shopping. What I WILL say is if you want a good bike without paying ridiculous amounts of money, find a place that rents out mountain bikes--they sell all their rentals at the end of the summer. We are lucky to live in a popular mountain biking area, so we have lots of options to choose from, but it really is where you can find the best deals.

At least once a week I'm asked, "where is this!??" when I post a picture on IG. Here's the thing....I love sharing all kinds of great stuff with you guys, but some of it I've just got to keep to myself, sorry! If I'm up for sharing our favorite spots, I promise I'll tell you :)

From time to time I'm asked if I use essential oils
I am so late in the game on this one, but I have slowly started using them here and there, and finding oils I like. I don't recommend one brand over the other, but I mostly have been using Doterra--only because a handful of people I know well use this brand, and I can get their opinions and ideas on different things. Again, I'm not super in to it (yet...?), but here's what I can now say I swear by:
Serenity : I am not very good at sleeping (napping, yes. sleeping, no) It takes me forrrrrever to fall asleep at night, and then I wake up all night long. Since I've been using this oil (since spring) I SWEAR to you I sleep so much better. And  hey! Maybe it' placebo, but who cares, it's working!
Breathe : this has been great when my kiddos are feeling "stuffy" and has helped Jonah sleep better with his darn allergies.
OnGuard : It's been helping us fend off colds and flu since last fall....and it smells like Christmas.

So teach me, all you smarty pants....what are your favorite oils and how do I use them?

Next question/comment:
I hope you start posting recipes again!
Me too.....because that would mean I was cooking! We really just eat so simply these days (it has to be easy, and it has to be quick.) So it's a lot of eggs, a lot of beans, pastas, a lot of grilled meats and veggies. Nothing fancy, or really worth noting here, I promise!

So let me ask YOU a question. 
I need some good crockpot recipes. 
I've never been a fan of the crockpot because I don't feel like the food tastes very fresh, and I'm not a fan of all the canned stuff that usually ends up in the pot. But I know you all have some good recipes to throw together quickly in the morning, and can cook all day--will you share them with me? Also, what crockpot should I get? 
Mine is too small.....teach me!

One of our favorite meals is a good BLT and whatever veggie we have on hand. 
Here are my little bean snappers, helping me with dinner. 
Sauté your green beans with garlic and pine nuts in olive easy and good!

Have a question? Feel free to ask!
Happy Weekend!

Sunday, October 4, 2015


I've been thinking a lot lately about seasons.
Summer has slowly faded away (my heart is still breaking a little), and we've been left with crisp air, chilly mornings, and sweaters and boots strung out all over the house. The mountains are burning up in reds and yellows, I've been waking often to rain, and we've had our first dusting of snow up on our favorite peaks.

But these aren't the seasons that have been on my mind.

These last two months of school have been a rough adjustment for out little family, I'm not going to lie. We are all constantly moving in opposite directions--I feel like I am flying though my weeks completely out of control--limbs flailing in all directions, uncertain of what is around the next corner (and there are just. so. many. corners!)

I was laughing at myself last week thinking of how I used to make LITERALLY almost everything we ate, from scratch. EVERYTHING! Some of you probably remember that too... YogurtAlmond milk! English Muffins! Who WAS that person?! Certainly it wasn't the same tired lady who slops together nachos once a week for dinner?

I used to run several times a week and practice yoga on the days I didn't run--always working to strengthen mind and body. I'm now happy to get a run in ONCE a week, and haven't been to yoga in an actual studio in over a year--my hips are paying the price.

I want to snuggle up with my babies, and watch movies and make cookies while it rains, and read the BFG with all different voices. I want my house to be picked up, and laundry washed and folded every day. I want to talk to Robby about life and things that are funny, and not just send quick kissy-faced texts when I have an extra minute.

I want it ALL.....and it's not working out that way. As we've been trying to adjust, I've been feeling down--I just can't do it all....not even close. And it's a hard realization, let me tell you. But these last two weeks I've made it my goal to see all the good that is happening within the chaos. It's pretty amazing, that once you start looking for something, you can always find it....imagine that.

Guess what I've found?.....Life is GOOD. It came to my attention that my kids have no idea how chaotic it is--they love school, soccer, they think having nachos and pancakes for dinner all the time is the best thing ever. They are becoming more and more independent and smart as we all take on more responsibilities at home.....what amazing little people they are....and they are figuring it out all on their own (and maybe sometimes they pretend they are the boxcar children....oh well). Just when I am feeling terrible about not helping Jonah with his book report he's like, "don't worry mom, I'm all done". And then I turn around and Lucy is frying eggs for breakfast. They've got this. We've got this.

I am finally figuring out how I need to organize my time, making sure there is always enough for playing and spending time together on the weekends--and they get my 100% undivided attention--we make the most of every single minute, let me tell you. I am doing my best to get rid of all the unnecessary things in life--cutting the fat--so my energy is not wasted on things that don't matter.

We had our time--our season--to take things slow, and now we are in a new season. I'm learning how to embrace it, how to run with it, and how to love it. I'm buttoning up my sweater, slipping into my boots, and stepping outside into the chilly morning air.


and as long as we are talking about seasons, I will share a very cinnamony pumpkiny and fallish recipe. Perfect for Sunday mornings in pjs.
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins // the little red house blog

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins // the little red house blog

Whole Wheat Pumpkin and Zucchini Muffins
Naturally sweetened with bananas and maple syrup. 
Made with whole wheat flour, flax,chia, and hemp seeds for a protein boost.

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
2 cups pumpkin puree

1 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tsp Mexican vanilla (I like THIS one)
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1/2 cup-1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup-1 cup chopped pecans
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup ground flax
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease muffin tins. Combine all dry ingredients and mix. In a separate bowl, combine coconut oil, pumpkin, zucchini, syrup, and vanilla--mix together. Mash in bananas. Mix in eggs until thoroughly combined. Dump in chocolate chips and slowly add in dry ingredients, a little at a time, until just mixed in. Do not over mix. Spoon into muffin tins (mixture will be thick) and place on bottom rack of oven, and bake for 20-25 minutes for regular muffins or 16-20 minutes for mini muffins. Muffins will be soft but a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean when they are done.

More fall baking:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

behind the square

last month. post-hike, pre-sushi selfie. Because it's 2015, so why not.

Social media is great, right? It's the perfect way for me to stay connected to friends, see the world from different points of view, I can use it to work from home, and let's all's fun! It's also the WORST....we all paint this picture of the perfect little world we live in--only showing our best of the best's not at ALL a real representation of life. And I think sometimes it's too easy to get caught up in that, don't you think?

You've heard the term "Keeping up with the Joneses", right? Did you know the phrase dates back to the early 1900s? I mean really, what was it that Jones Family was doing that was worth keeping up with--growing better potatoes? Riding a faster horse? Now, with social media, we know every little detail of the Joneses life. Where they are going and who they are with and how they got there! What they are eating and when they are eating it! What their perfect house looks like, what their perfect kids look like, and what their perfect face looks like, because now the Joneses share lots of pictures of their outstretched arms and close-up faces. They definitely didn't have to worry about selfies back in 1913.

Those Joneses are BUSY, and they are everywhere. Doing everything. And rubbing it in your face.

Obviously social media wouldn't be any fun if we all just shared things like the dirty (mismatched, obviously) socks all over our house, eating pancakes (again) for dinner, and late nights studying drug interactions for school (this involves mild anxiety attacks) let's not do that (phew!) But let's all just try to remember that the lives we see every day in squares aren't entirely real--everyone has all kinds of mundane and ugly behind-the-scenes stuff going in their lives, they just choose not to share it.

So in an effort to be transparent for a brief moment, let me tell you about how my Tuesday and Wednesday went down. After class I threw on my running clothes with hopes of a quick run while the kids went to soccer practice. But by the time I got them over to the fields, my day caught up to me and I was so tired, I couldn't even imagine running, let alone leaving the parking lot.....sooooo.....I did the next best thing, and curled up in the backseat of my car to take a nap while I waited for them.  I woke up groggy with a seat belt imprint on my leg, and promised myself I'd do some kind of workout at home. So naturally I walked inside and finished off the cookies from the weekend and did some pull-ups. And by "some" I mean three, because have you seen my arms? I'm not really a pull-up-kind-of-gal. 
I then stayed up until 1a.m. working on homework, closed my eyes and woke up  (I swear it was 2 minutes later), and had to start my day again. I spent 9 hours in class, 4 hours in the car, and sustained myself on granola bars and a hearty dinner of chips and salsa.


Want more honesty? I try to post several times a week on my IG account, and guess what? Sometimes those photos are just pictures I took over the weekend. So yeah, I am not a true INSTA-grammer. I am more of a WEEK-OR-SO-LATER-grammer. I know, I know, I'm blowing your mind right now. So rather than posting a selfie of drool running down my cheek as I desperately try to rest my brain in the backseat of my car, I'll post a picture of myself out doing something I love, or my kids being adorable, or basically anything to distract from the craziness that is my life sometimes.

And now you know a piece of my life behind the square....just a few things to keep in mind as you admire Mr. Jones exotic vacation or Mrs. Jones seemingly easy breezy and stress free lifestyle. 
Those Joneses are liars. 

Tell me about your day.
Your REAL day, not your internet day.
Your day behind the square.

depending on your thoughts on social media, you can unfollow or follow me on IG @_sheenarae